Expedition to the Malaysian Borneo 2018
Expedition to the Malaysian Borneo 2018
Malaysian Borneo is a picturesque part of Asia, which I recommend to travellers who like close contact with nature. The states of Sarawak and Sabah are famous for primary rain forests, huge caves, and the rich cultural life of Borneo. In national parks and reserves we can see Orangutans, proboscis monkeys, hornbills and rivers full of crocodiles. Explorers of Borneo can also climb the mountains, dive with sea turtles and rest on beautiful beaches. I recommend this beautiful tropical region of Malaysia especially to all nature lovers, although I think it would be a mistake to not to get to know the interesting culture of the people of Borneo.
My trip around the Malaysian Borneo: Kota Kinabalu, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park, Lok Kawi Nature Park, Borneo Cultural Village – Mari Mari, Mount Kinabalu climb (4095.2 m above sea level), Kota Kinabalu, Kudat, The Tip of Borneo, Desa Dairy Farm, Sandakan, Sepilok – (Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Bornean Sunbear Reserve, The Rainforest Discovery Centre), Kinabatangan river, Gumantog caves, Labuk Bay (proboscis monkeys), Semporna and the island archipelago, Tawau – Sanakin hot springs, Tawau Hills Park.
I’ve planning my next trip to Borneo for 6 years, when I was here for the last time in 2012. I wanted to return to Borneo, specifically to the state of Sabah, because last time it was the only part of Malaysia which I haven’t explored yet. In 2012 I travelled for many months around the Western Malaysia (peninsular), and then I ended up in Kuching, where I started my journey through the state of Sarawak. It is true that I finished my journey in Kota Kinabalu, but at that time I didn’t go any further, but then I have not yet travelled through the state of Sabah.
Malaysia is undoubtedly a beautiful country, rich in natural beauty and the peculiarities of nature. I found that out when I was in the Taman Negara Park and in Sarawak parks, such as Mulu, Niah and Gunung Gading. I saw big caves, primary tropical forests and wonderful Orangatans. However, the nature Borneo is not everything, because Sarawak is also worth a visit due to the culture of the people of Borneo. In the cultural villages, I saw how people lived in a traditional way and how they make food. I saw their costumes and national customs – and I think that cultures and traditions should be preserved.
This time I wanted to concentrate all my energy on the state of Sabah. I knew that I would see Orangutans and proboscis monkeys, but each state is a little different and has something new to offer. Also, the fact that I haven’t been to Sabah so far, has been a burden of my traveller’s ambition. I intended to have fun, but above all I wanted to enjoy the nature of the island of Borneo. Whilst raveling around Sabah, I saw many places and had many interesting adventures, but in this article I will only tell briefly about the most important ones. I appreciated the very important things a traveller should see. I enjoyed street bazaars with exotic fruits, fish restaurants in the seaports, cultural villages of Borneo people, and of course the beautiful flora and fauna of Borneo.
The road to Kota Kinabalu
I got to Kota Kinabalu by boat from the Labuan Island. The cruise lasted 3.15h and it cost 39RM. The first thing I saw from the boat was the monument of the Blue Merlin, which I had seen before. I soon got off at Jesselton Point.
Generally about Kota Kinabalu
My first place was the main city in the state of Sabah – Kota Kinabalu. I’ve been there before, but this time it was a bit different. Kota Kinabalu was more developed, there were more stores, more goods and more money to spend. However, the charm of this seaside city remained the same. Bazaars and fish restaurants by the sea, exotic fruits and a nice climate of Kota Kinabalu kept me there much longer than I planned. Simple things which seem to be boring for Malaysians, to white tourists were interesting, beautiful and valuable. In my many reports I have already made it clear that the beauty of the world is based on differences.
!!! I got wet a few times during the rainy season, but it was a warm tropical rain, so it was nice. I also liked Borneo tea and coffee with a durian flavour. I would like to say that tea in Malaysia is harvested by Orangutans and long-nosed monkeys, but I don’t expect anyone to believe me in that.
Kota Kinabalu was also my base for some time to the places of interest. I think that every visit to Kota Kinabalu can be also treated as a culinary trip.
Places of Interest in Kota Kinabalu and its surroundings
It is worth mentioning that although the city of Kota Kinabalu offers many attractions and it is full of interesting places for travellers, many places of interest are located outside the city. I advise travellers to not to be lazy and go out of Kota Kinabalu.
The State Mosque
The State Mosque is an impressive Muslim temple, which strikes with its size, and is further away from the loud centre of the KK. The mosque has a large golden dome, a golden minaret and several small minarets with golden tops. Inside, there is a prayer room and an attractive pond. The whole object is located in exotic nature, that’s why I recommend it to all travelers as an interesting cultural experience. On the other hand however, I whole heartedly wish Muslims to stay in Malaysia and build mosques in their countries.
The Sabah Museum
Near the State Mosque there is Sabah Museum, which is an ethnographic museum and the Sabah natural history museum under one roof. Among many things, the museum houses a whale skeleton, wedding dresses and ceramics found the state of Sabah. I saw models of traditional Borneo houses, with precious finds and costumes of the indigenous people of Borneo. Borneo animals such as the Pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros and sea turtle, I also found to be very interesting expositions. I think that Sabah Museum is very important to those people, who want to ge to know the culture and the history of Borneo, instead of just seeing Orangutans and leave.
The second building is Sabah Art Gallery where there are several interesting paintings and sculptures created by artists from Sabah. I recommend! There is also the Centre for Arts and Education, which has exhibitions on oil extraction, from drilling to processing to petrol. I had seen similar museums before in Miri (Sarawak), and in Brunei. Museum facilities are located on a large area, and their architecture is modelled on traditional Borneo longhouses, from Rungus and Murut tribes.
Below, there is the Cultural Village, which gives a chance to get to know the traditional wooden houses of Borneo, built around a pond. The whole area is also surrounded by tall bamboos and has a bridge on ropes. The Cultural Village is a very peaceful and a culturally valuable place.
My critics do not want to understand that I love other cultures, and it cost me a lot of effort to get to know them. I just don’t want the whole world to live in one place at the expense of the native culture, under the Communist regime.
The Musem of Islamic Civilization
An interesting place in Kota Kinabalu was also the Museum of Islamic Civilization. What I liked the most about it, was the so-called ‘map of Islam’, showing all Muslim countries and all the countries with large Muslim populations. There were selected countries, such as: Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but on the other hand; very rightly but tragically, some of the selected countries included: England, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Canada. In the background there were shown smiling women and children, but there wasn’t a single word about Muslims organizing terrorist attacks, burn churches, and raping White women and children.
After leaving the Museum of Islamic Civilization someone could have the impression that Islam in Europe is a salvation to us, and that Muslims are our friends. I remember that similar lies I saw in the fraudulent Stalin’s Museum in Gori. Over there it was also possible to get the impression that Stalin was a “good uncle” and that Communism was “an economic miracle and the oasis of freedom.” Muslims are experts at whitewashing their ideology, and the crimes of their pseudo-prophet. Today’s Muslims; some good, some bad, in my opinion are going the wrong way. I believe that alongside the Koran, it is necessary to introduce the philosophy of ancient Greeks in the Muslim countries, so that they could decide for themselves what they prefer.
However, I would like to add that people of Borneo I consider to be nice and helpful, and I have good opinion about them. My bad opinion about Muslims in Europe and my strong right-wing views do not apply to Muslims in their own countries. To be fair with Muslims, I disagree with all the wars in their countries and I think that the West, which is financed and ruled by the Zionists did a lot of evil in the Muslim countries.
Every war in the Middle East and the mass immigration of Muslims to Europe stinks to me with Zionism.
Kota Kinabalu mosque (“the floating mosque”)
Officially named Masjid Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu proved to be one of my most enjoyable experiences in this city, and I liked the whole place so much, that I did this trip twice. From the centre, which is from from the area of the Blue Merlin monument, all the way to the floating mosque I walked about 4 km along the seashore. It was a warm tropical day with random showers, which is why I was not in a hurry. When I got to the point where I saw the mosque, first I went to a nearby beach to eat a Malay dinner, drink Malaysian tea “teh tarik”, and swim without crocodiles, as I had done before in Brunei. I spent the whole day on the beach, among the trees, and I was sipping Malaysian tea.
It was so nice that I forgot about the mosque. After all, there are so many of them in Londonistan – more than in Islamabad, more than in Amman and in Beirut, more than in Mecca !!! (Holy f**k!) …
I went back to Kota Kinabalu using the same way, and I spent the evening at the fruit bazaar. The next day however I finally wanted to see the famous mosque on the water, so this time it was my priority. The mosque was completed in 2002 and it cost as much as 34 million Malaysian Ringgit. It has 4 minarets, and a huge main dome in gold and blue. In addition, there are 3 Muslim schools (madressas), its own clinic, and a main praying hall for 12.000 worshipers. The greatest charm of this mosque is in placing it on the edge of a large pond, which gives it a special, picturesque character, and gives more sophisticated photographic possibilities.
In addition, around the mosque there are bars with food and drinks, Muslims listen to music and it is generally a fun place. I was also given a tour around the mosque by young Muslim women, who were very curious where I was from, and why I visited Malaysia. Those sweet Muslim kittens were greatly impressed by my travels to Muslim countries. I paid 5 RM for entry, and I remind everyone that because it is a place of worship, tourists should dress appropriately.
After the mosque, of course, I returned to the beach, where I spent the rest of the day.
In my travel career, I have seen the best and the most valuable Muslim objects. I especially recommend Iran and Uzbekistan. I admit that I like mosques and I like visiting them when I’m in Asia, but I just do not like mosques in Europe, because it is the wrong place for them.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park
The first trip I took was to the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine national park. It is a picturesque area at sea, and the main attraction are five exotic islands with white beaches and palm trees. They are: Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik, Suluk and Gaya. All the islands are a bit different, because some have better beaches, and other have better coral reefs around than the others. For example, on the island of Sapi I liked wild monitor lizards very much, and the wooden jetties leading to the beaches. There were nice views from them, although I used them for jumping into the blue, transparent water.
The Tunku Abdul Raman Maritime National Park is a pleasant escape from the noise of the city. The park covers only an area of 49 km² and is made of 5 exotic islands, full of plants, nice beaches with clean water and coral reefs. Every year, this fairy-tale exotic archipelago is visited by about 300.000 tourists, which is why I think it is a must-visit.
Transport by boat to the islands is easily reachable from the Jesselton Point, and the price of transport per one island costs 23 RM at the end of 2018. For two, three and four islands it is respectively, 33, 43 and 53 Malaysian Ringgit.
The Lok Kawi Nature Park
I also took a huge hitchhiking trip to the Lok Kawi Nature Park, where among many animals I saw Orangutans, proboscis monkeys, black bears, turtles, monitor lizards and buffaloes. I also saw endemic birds of Borneo, such as hornbills. I liked the beautiful botanical garden in the park, where there were many endemic plants from the Borneo island. Unfortunately, the disadvantage of the park is that it lies off the beaten track; although for a hitchhiker like me, it was not a problem. Getting there by many private cars took me about an hour.
Lok Kawi Park is a popular meeting place for families, but unfortunately nobody should expect animals running around freely. It is a very pleasant, well-organized and a clean zoo. Among many animals I saw tigers, interesting buffaloes with large horns and elephants. I think that my favourite ones were Orangutans and the long-nosed monkeys (nasalis larvatus), which are symbols of the island of Borneo. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the small presence of reptiles. For children I recommend shows with snakes, Orangutans and monkeys. In Lok Kawi there are also competitions about who would be the first to peel a coconut, and unfortunately the monkey always wins. I recommend this park primarily to families with children. I paid 20RM for entry.
The Cultural Village of Borneo – Mari Mari
While traveling through the state of Sarawak, I was already in the cultural villages of Borneo, but Mari Mari in the state of Sabah still turned out to be a valuable cultural experience, and reminded me of the need to preserving cultures. About 25 minutes by bus from Kota Kinabalu is a village of ethnic people of Mari Mari, which for me was very educational. The people of Borneo organize performances in which tourists can also participate. There were dances, alcohol and tobacco and shooting from blow pipes to a target. As before in Laos, also in Borneo there was a show on how to cool in a bamboo. Mari Mari even had a tattoo studio in a bamboo hut.
The whole trip including transport and meal cost me 150RM. It was money well spent.
The mount Kinabalu climb (4095.2 m above sea level)
I think that the most important part of my trip around the state of Sabah, was climbing the highest peak of the island of Borneo – Mount Kinabalu (4095.2 m above the sea level).
On the first day I went by bus from Kota Kinabalu towards Ranau, what cost me 25RM. After less than an hour of driving I got out in front of the Jungle Jack‘s house, with whom I had already arranged my stay from the hostel in KK. He knew I would come. Jungle Jack lives opposite the park and regularly organizes trips. For 4 days and 3 nights in his mountain house with a gym and nice views, and for admission to the park with a climb permit, in 2018 I paid 1180 Malaysian Ringgit.
At Jungle Jack, I also met a few people who wanted to have political talks with me about Europe. It did not surprise me at all that the Germans were stupid and stubborn like a bunch of donkeys. From their statements, I understood that even if I sent them another 5 million Muslims, they would not have a problem with it because “they are not racists”. Unfortunately for the German idiots I can’t see big chances of survival, unless they happen to be smarter. There was also someone from the Netherlands, but his mind was so dark, that I didn’t even bother to talk to him. Oddly enough, the black man from the USA turned out to be the most sensible person, and he was so interested in me so much that he accompanied me to the top. He understood the ethnic change in the traditionally white countries, but then we only talked about the nature, although we spent some time together and ate meals together too. I therefore had a black travel companion and I understood that I was not a racist, because I was able to show respect to sensible black men.
I was genuinely disgusted with the white cattle, brainwashed by the Left beyond repair, though especially with a German woman – a fan of ethnic replacement. This time I preferred a black man, who despite being black had whiter mind than the white sheep from different corners of liberal Europe.
Mount Kinabalu is not an easy summit to climb, even though it is not as high as the others I was on. Although I’ve already been higher, I must admit that climbing Mount Kinabalu was very demanding, because in order to reach the top I had to overcome 8km uphill through the jungle on the first day. I often sat down because it was steep, but the views were very nice and changed with climbing. Once I sat under a waterfall.
When I got to the Laban Rata base camp I had little time to rest, because I had to get up at 2 am and climb at night. I could barely get up, but I climbed up after all, avoiding sharp rocks and breathing cold air. When the line of trees and bushes was finished, the last part I climbed on bare rocks, holding onto the ropes. The views were beautiful, as was the satisfaction of getting to the summit. The last day was very tiring for me, because I had to walk 13km, first to the top and then down to the park’s gate. When I got to the Jungle Jack’s house, first I ate dinner, and then I slept until my headache finally finished. I was exhausted by this climb, like with no other before.
My experience after conquering Mount Kinabalu was very good, even though I could have climbed faster. I admit that my pace was too slow
My return to Kota Kinabalu
The next day I hitch-hiked to Kota Kinabalu (KK). I was lucky because when I stood on the road, I managed to flag down a truck, which took me to the small town of Tamparuli. From there I took a minibus to Kota Kinabalu for only 5RM.
My last days in Kota Kinabalu
My two last days in Kota Kinabalu were a time of relaxation. I was in a sea port bar to have on a really nice fish, and the next evening I ate a huge mussel in a tomato sauce, which proved to be harder to bite than a saddle on a horse. I was also shopping for coffee and tea from the Borneo rainforest (according to the inscription on the packaging), and reportedly picked by long-nosed monkeys. Then I had a massage for 50RM, and I went to the fruit bazaar, where I tried durian, mangosteen, rambutan, lansunis and marang. The exotic fruit of Asia are just another wonderful and tasty chapter of travelling around Asia.
I lived in Lucy’s Homestay, that’s why when I had the strength, first I went to see the Atkinson Clocktower, and then through the small jungle I climbed the Singal Hill Observatory. The food over there was bad, but there was a nice view of Kota Kinabalu from the top.
Transport do the Tip of Borneo
Jazda minibusem z KK do Kudat zajęła 3h i kosztowała 25RM. Jest to dystans 190km. Następnie z Kudat pojechałem autostopem do Wierzchołka Borneo, co zajęło około 15 minut.
The Tip of Borneo
About 40 km from Kudat there is the phenomenon of nature and a very specific place. It is the Tip of Borneo, where even Ferdinand Magellan himself stopped by during his voyage around the world, and which for me turned out to be a very pleasant destination. The Tip of Borneo is a secluded place, near a picturesque beach with palm trees, lying on the northernmost part of the island of Borneo. I really liked it because I lived in a wooden house on the beach, and I fell asleep and woke up by the sound of the sea. I swam, threw myself into high waves and walked among the palms. Sometimes I had breaks for some food and to buy coconuts, which in my opinion are the best drinks in the tropical climate. I also often stopped by bamboo stalls under palm leaves to see the shells.
The Tip of Borneo is a spectacular rock formation, where the Sulu Sea meets the South China Sea, but for the tourist it is a very quiet and peaceful place. I went here many times to see the monument in the shape of a globe, showing the island of Borneo and the northernmost tip. I saw waves crushing against the rocks, on which I walked carefully many times. To me, the Tip of Borneo was exceptionally beautiful, and the waves waking me up every morning, which I later threw myself at, kept me for much longer than I planned.
Many tourists from Malaysia go to the Tip of Borneo only to see the monument, take a short walk on the rocks and leave quickly. For me however, the Tip of Borneo is just an attractive addition to the magnificent beach, the rock formations and exotic settings. It was very nice. The waves massaged me for several days.
Adventure in transport – from the Tip of Borneo to Sandakan
During my travel career it happened to many quite a few times, that I had spent whole days in transport. Although it may seem boring and monotonous, I think that “adventures in transport” allow for a better understanding of the country and its people, because they give new experiences.
From the Tip of Borneo someone picked me up off the road and let me off on the road to Kota Marudu and Kota Belud. There, at the crossroads, I had a dinner in a Chinese bar and I was so lucky that a group of young men took me from the parking lot to Desa Dairy Farm. The place is a dairy farm located in beautiful mountain scenery, where cows chew grass and breathe clean air. There are also souvenir shops, ice cream and other sweets made over there, and through the large glass one can see the cow milking. I never thought that I would go to a dairy farm, but it turned out to be a nice place on my way to Sandakan. Then, when driving through the mountainous Kundasang, my Malaysian traveling companions dropped me off in Ranau.
Then I had two short hitches, but finally someone took me straight to Sandakan, through Telupid. On the way we ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant, including a wild boar, and we arrived to Sandakan at 9 PM. During this trip I was usually fortunate enough to be driven by four-wheeled jeeps. It was a great ride through the mountainous, beautiful, clean, and adventurous Sabah.
Generally about Sandakan
Sandakan is an attractive city of Sabah, which has several historical buildings, parks and gardens, that would definitely keep travellers for a few days. Sandakan is a well-stocked small town, with great fruit bazaars, fish markets and fish restaurants by the sea; and a pleasant Malaysian atmosphere. In Sandakan I liked street food and sweets very much, although as usual I liked contact with happy people. Because I don’t drink alcohol nor smoke cigarettes, I used to go out for tea and walk by the sea in the evening.
The people in Borneo were always curious about where I was from, and I greeted them and proudly answered that from Poland. I spent many evenings in the company of local people, and returned to the hotel with a bag of exotic fruit, such as: lansunis, mangostine and jackfruit. Unfortunately due to the strong smell, or rather the stench of that fruit, many hotels in Borneodo not allow durians. Sandakan is also a great street market in itself, where sometimes it seemed to me as if the trade never ended. When walking around the city one can find great deals.
I stayed at the Sea View Lodge from 30RM per night, and then I stayed in a dormitory for 20RM. I lived by the sea, and from my window I saw a fruit market and a souvenir shop of Borneo. There was also a very short walk to the very interesting fish bazaar, where I saw sting rays and sharks … ………. and sometimes even sea monsters, which are now supposedly extinct. I liked Sandakan so much that I even enjoyed my time in a laundry room, and I didn’t mind dirt in some streets.
Places of interest in Sandakan
Although the exotic and interesting Sandakan itself is already a tourist attraction in itself, there are a few places within the city, that I have seen and which are worth highlighting. All these places are located within a radius of about 5 km from the centre, because the various districts of Sandakan are relatively far apart.
Agnes Keith House – is a wooden house in a large garden that has been converted into a museum. Agnes Keith was a writer who came to Sandakan in the 1930s and wrote a well known book in Malaysia, titled, the “Land below the wind”. This museum presents the history of the Keith family, and shows the brutal Japanese occupation of the island of Borneo, which in Sandakan is well remembered. Agnes Keith was also imprisoned by the Japanese. The museum is interesting because of the history of Borneo in the times of World War II, and because it has many items from that time. In addition, there is an English tea house in the tropical garden, despite the fact that American Agnes Keith, after coming to Sandakan said that the city was too British.
The Agnes Keith Museum is located behind the Sandakan Hotel, near the port.
Near the Agnes Keith Museum, close to the Chinese cemetery, there is also the Japanese cemetery, founded by a Japanese woman, who by the way ran a very popular brothel in Sandakan. Interestingly, we could expect to see graves of war heroes there, but during World War II there were only graves of 100 prostitutes. Today, there is also a monument commemorating the Japanese soldiers.
Sandakan Memorial Park – is the former military base of Japan, where the imperial army began the memorable death march to Ranau. Here, where today there is a tropical park with beautiful Borneo trees and huge leaves, where nowadays there is a pond and one can see exotic lizards and birds, during the Japanese occupation it was also a prison for 1800 Australians and 600 Britons. By 1945 only 6 prisoners survived, and only those who managed to escape. In the park there are numerous pictures and information boards reminding about the tragic history.
In Poland, we learn a lot about the Second World War by rightfully demonizing Hitler’s crimes, although unfortunately we rarely talk about Stalin’s crimes and the crimes committed by Jews. I think it is also worth knowing what was happening at the time on the other side of the world, especially that emperor Hirohito was Hitler’s ally, and carried out such elaborate tortures on his prisoners, that the Nazis did not even dream of. I do not want to choose the worst of the worst here, but I think that in general Asians are more violent than Europeans, because Europeans are only brutal in order to achieve their goals, while Asians have elevated brutality to the level of art. Europeans are trying to hide their crimes, while Asians have written guides on that subject.
Fortunately, close to the “Park of Japanese Crimes” there is a pleasant place – the Crocodile Park. In that small area I saw green monsters, which were most active during feeding. At the roundabout near the Crocodile Park stands a huge crocodile, which points the farm with his finger, and that’s why the place is easy to find.
In Sandakan I went to see a large Chinese temple on the hill, called Puu Jih Shih. It is an attractive Buddhist temple with many Chinese ornaments, Buddha statues, with profiled roofs, and with dragons winding around red pillars. The temple is dominated with rich colours, ornaments and many sophisticated sculptures, while the views of the Sandakan from the top are spectacular. A characteristic features of this temple are also numerous swastikas, as symbols of peace. Lower in the garden there is also a green shrub in the shape of a swastika.
If you feel like it, you can also see the St Michael’s Anglican Church, which is the oldest church in Sandakan. The common thing about that church, and all the churches in England, is that they are always empty. The church itself however, and the great altar depicting saints, and vegetation all around were attractive.
Sepilok is the most popular place in the world to see Orangutans. In 2012, when I was traveling in Borneo the last time, I was in Semengogh in the state of Sarawak, where there is also an Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Even so, I decided that even after seeing Lok Kawi a few weeks earlier, it was still worth seeing once again those very special to me … Orangutans – the “forest people of Borneo”. In addition, there is also the Bornean Black Bears Reserve and the Rainforest Discovery Center. The lucky ones can also see pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinoceros and gibbons. All these places are located in the forest area of Kabili Sepilok, which guarantees travellers and volunteers an opportunity to getting to know the beautiful nature of Borneo.
Near these centres there are hotels, what means that there is no need to drive 23km from Sandakan. If someone plans to have a longer contact with nature, he can have his base in Sepilok.
The Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
The Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Sepilok was opened in 1964 as the first official project, set to rehabilitate rescued and orphaned Orangutans from logging sites, plantations, illegal hunting or those which were kept as pets. Therefore, 43 km² of protected area on the edge of the Kabili Sepilok forest reserve was transformed into a rehabilitation site for Orangutans, and a centre built specifically for those apes. At present, there are about 25 young orphan Orangutans in nurseries, in addition to those in the reserve.
In the reserve there is a wooden footbridge running through the jungle, from where I saw Orangutans several times, wandering the jungle alone or in pairs. I also saw a female with a young one clinging to her fur, but in order to see them, we have to be lucky, because Orangutans do not approach us to offer a beer. At the sight of people, they run away, or they sit quietly in the trees and watch us. When walking through the jungle, I also saw Orangutans nests, because those “forest people” always sleep in a different place. For tourists, the best place is the viewing platform, where few times a day volunteers give them food. Tourists with good zoom are able to take pictures of them or at least see Orangutans in close proximity during lunch.
The Orangutan food is prepared in such a way that it is boring and monotonous, to force Orangutans to learn how to get food that they like on their own. Contact with people is very limited, because the purpose of rehabilitation is to adapt orangutans to life on their own.
Unfortunately, in Sepilok there is a „white man‘s price”. White people pay 30RM, while Malaysians pay only 5RM. Well, at least I gave more to the Orangutans.
Today, there are many organizations in developed countries that help protect Orangutans. These organizations collect money for their maintenance, research and security. Such type of Orangutan Loving Organization, of course also exists in England, but none of these organizations want to say why Orangutans are at risk. We know about the loss of their natural environment because to the huge palm oil plantations, which make Malaysia nearly 45 billion Malaysian Ringgit a year. But what is very important, the English who love Orangutans so much, do not want to admit that oil palms were introduced to Malaysia not by anyone else, by the British in the early 1870s, as an ornamental plant. Then, in 1917 the first commercial planting took place at the Tennamaran estate in Selangor, laying the foundations for huge palm oil plantations and the palm oil industry in Malaysia.
I talked about this with a Malaysian man who gave me a free lift in his car. He said that no one knew oil palms in Malaysia until the British introduced them, so that under the pretext of a decorative plant, they could derive profit from the Malaysian land, and what in effect led to the almost complete destruction of Orangutans. Nowadays, English people pose to pictures with artificial smiles, when they hand over pay cheques for orangutans, but this situation is their fault. “Therefore first, the English hooligans broke orangutans’ teeth, and now they want to wash their blame because they cover 1% of their denstist expenses.” What a hypocrisy!
In Africa and India it was the same. English “gentlemen” used to shoot elephants, rhinoceros and tigers, just to take pictures with them, and now they have “merciful organizations.”
The Bornean sun bear conservation center
Beside the Orangutans there is a small but a very interesting and well-maintained centre, dedicated to the protection of the Bornean sun bears. This resort was opened in 2004, and its main job is to protect the world’s smallest bears. The black bears of Borneo re called „sun bears”, because of the yellow crescent under their neck. They lead an arboreal lifestyle, also when they sleep. Their characteristic feature is also a very long tongue, thanks to which they can easily lick honey from bee hives.
The bear centre is very well prepared for visitors. I stood on a wooden platform and watched bears sitting on trees and those sitting on the ground. There was also a telescope, through which I managed to take a few photos up close. Sun bears are the least known species of bears in the world, and the second rarest, after pandas. The biggest threats are the loss of the natural environment, poaching, and keeping them pets in private farms.
The Rainforest Discovery Centre
It is a separate part of the jungle, where tourists can admire the beautiful tropical flora and fauna. In the jungle there is a botanical garden, a lake surrounded with exotic plants and a 1km long walking trail. There are also 8 towers connected by walkways, thanks to which one can see the jungle from above. The Rainforest Discovery Center is a place where I spent a very pleasant time in the bosom of tropical nature. One can also go there at night to see flying squirrels, civets and other animals. Everyone who loves nature should definitely go here.
After returning from Sandakan I went to the Kinabatangan river, which is one more place in the state of Sabah, where one can admire the nature of Borneo. Sungkai Kinabatangan is 560km long, it is in a colour of tea with milk, and ends up in the Sea of Sulu. I lived in a room by the river, and for two cruises and two nights with breakfast I paid 200RM. Transport from Sandakan cost me 50RM.
River cruises in search of wild animals are the most important part of the program. I only saw wild pigs and colonies of monkeys, but people travelling before me also saw pygmy elephants crossing the river, and even wild orangutans. The cruise itself, even without animals, is still very pleasant and relaxing because I was sailing through a wide river and its narrow canals. I saw monkeys a few times, and ones, one of them came down from the tree, pulled out a paw towards me, and I was so nice that I gave it a cracker.
In the evenings I used to go out to wooden restaurants by the brown river, I talked to people, and unfortunately I saw a lot of oil palm trees, which to Orangutans are the symbols of greed and death. I think that every traveller eploring Borneo should definitely see that place. Those who are interested can also cross the jungle with a guide.
On the way back to Sandakan I stopped at a turn to the Gomantong caves, which although is present on a tourist trail, it is often overlooked. The cave itself is huge, and also secured, because there is wooden footbridge inside. About 275.000 bats live in the cave, what means that it is important to walk carefully, to avoid breaking a neck on their shit. I liked the entrance to the huge Simud Hitam cave, and the view of the exit from the end of the cave. There’s also a smaller cave, Simud Putih, if someone feels he hasn’t had enough.
I paid 30RM for entry, because I’m white. Malaysians pay only 5RM.
Gomantong Caves are one of the main places in Borneo to collect swiftlet nests, which are ordered by the rich Chinese, and then are processed into soups. One kilo of nests costs as much as $10,000, that’s why for poor Malaysians it’s a good deal, even though they have to put bamboo scaffolds on the edges of dark caves. Bird’s nests are made of bird saliva in a solid form. The Chinese say that the bird’s nests have medicinal values, like apparently the shark soup and the rhinoceros horn, but I doubt it. In my opinion, this is the whim of rich Asians who affect animals in a bad way.
Getting to Gomantong caves must be done by own transport. I went back to Sandakan by a few cars stopped on the road, with a stop over in Bukit Garam, where I went to an Indian restaurant.
Labuk Bay – the proboscis monkey sanctuary
Proboscis monkeys, next to orangutans, are among the most important symbols of the island of Borneo. Those funny monkeys live in herds run by a dominant male. Labuk Bay is a separated mangrove forest, designed to protect those wonderful animals. Proboscis must be protected because palm oil plantations are a very profitable business in Malaysia. For thiat reason, the natural environment of endemic animal species is being consistently destroyed.
In Labuk Bay there are two main entrances lined with wooden footbridges, leading through the mangrove forest. Each footbridge leads to an observation deck from which proboscis monkeys can be seen from a close distance. I found it especially interesting and uplifting when I saw a whole bunch of them, eating cucumbers, beans and sometimes even pancakes. Proboscis are cute, furry monkeys, which everyone would like to hug, but unfortunately touching them is not allowed. It happened to me a few times, when monkeys which were familiar with people walked next to me, and one even sat on a chair at the table – when I had a banana in my hand.
Actually, I could sit there whole day and just watch those beautiful, funny creatures, who live in specific social structures. The dominant male is not a gentlemen, because he always eats first, even befire females with babies. On the other hand, he is very vigilant and protects his herd.
In addition, I walked in the Labuk Bay forest and i saw several monitor lizards running on the road. It is a real shame that oil palm trees grew everywhere, because without them maybe I would see orangutans.
In order to get to Labuk Bay from Sandakan, it is best to get a minibus from the Sandakan hotel. The ride costs 40RM for a round trip. Own transport is problematic.
My last day in Sandakan
I spent the whole next day in Sandakan, and I didn’t want to hurry. Once again I went to the fish market, then to the seaside restaurant, and I spent a pleasant time with the local Malaysians. I was sorry to leave that city, but I had to continue my trip.
Transport from Sandakan to Semporna
In order to leave the city, first I had to take a grab (a kind of a taxi) to the bus station outside the city center.
My route was:
Sandakan – Lohod Datu 30RM, 3h.
Lohod Datu – Semporna 30RM – 2h.
I saw a lot of oil palm trees along the way, which are a notorious sight throughout Malaysia.
Semporna is a small, uninteresting town with a few shops and hotels. It’s one of those places which doesn’t make an impression, and which you want to leave as soon as you get there. In general Semporna town is made of a few concrete blocks, stuffed with food and various goods. Fortunately, I had a very pleasant hostel for 30RM with breakfast, and there was a grill nearby in the street. After some time however, I got used to it, and it was nice, especially when people come out with their street stalls.
Every evening I had a great fish straight from the sea, and I bought tropical fruit. I spent a really nice time there.
The Semporna Archipelago is a popular tourist destination at the outskirts of the Malaysian Borneo, because of the National Marine Park, which is one of the centers of tropical diving. The town itself is not interesting, but nobody goes there to admire the vendors of mango or grilled chicken. The natural beauty of Semporna is amazing, and the legendary Sipadan enjoys the greatest popularity among scuba divers. Unfortunately, prices for diving near Sipadan I describe as a “heavy landing”.
The Semporna Archipelago is an exceptionally picturesque group of islands, where despite the divers invasion, live local people. For that reason, Semporna also offers cultural experiences, because when walking through the islands, and crossing wooden footbridges high above the water, and then walking in the beaches, I reached wooden houses where local Malaysians sold shells, beads, ornaments made of gifts of the sea, and of course coconuts under palm trees. It is also necessary to understand that what we see above water is one world, while there is another world under water. It is a world of diverse corals, huge rays, sea turtles and sharks.
In order get to know the Semporna archipelago better, I think it is necessary to buy several day trips, or those which last two or three days. Then we would have the chance to enjoy the beauty of the tropical, aquatic nature, and get to know the culture of the local islanders. I remember that during my walk on one of the islands, one Malaysian shouted to me, asking what I was throwing into the sea, to which I replied that I was returning the shells where they came from. He just smiled. Local people really care about the cleanliness of their islands, and tourists should do as well.
The word “Semporna” is little known even among divers. The “key” word here is “Sipadan”, which outclasses coral reefs in other parts of the archipelago. This doesn’t mean, that other reefs are bad, because to Whites every corner of Malaysia look tropical and attractive.
Tours around the Semporna archipelago
On the first trip I sailed to the Mabul island, where I spent 2 days and 1 night. I lived in a dorm room above the sea, as my house was built on wooden posts, and the foundations were built in the depth. That small wooden house was connected to the mainland with wooden bridges. I also had meals and a diving base on site. In addition to all the great beaches, coconut palms and view taken from picture perfect postcards, I also liked contact with people from the Mabul village. I played football with Malaysian children, I bought some souvenirs, and I talked to them a lot.
I had two scuba dives ear the Mabul island and I snorkeled a few times. Once I dived in a magnificent coral reef, full of small creatures. Another time I went down to a depth of about 20m to circle around wrecks, where I also saw interesting sea life. I saw a couple of sea turtles, many small fish and one big one – a giant grouper. Compared with other small fish, this giant looked like an underwater tank, though it was very shy.
After two days on the beaches and under the water I went back to the Semporna town by boat. My stay cost me 190RM, including transport by boat, 1 night in the room, and two meals. Two hours of diving cost me 240RM, but in Sipadan, which is an underwater paradise, diving would be much more expensive and would still have to be booked in advance. My time at Mabul was very pleasant and calm.
I want to add that after dark I walked on the bridge with a flashlight to watch sea turtles eating plankton from the depth of the sea.
Bohey Dulang + Mantabuan + Sibuan + snorkelling
The next day I took a trip to the three islands, which I can shortly describe as moving around paradise beaches. Unfortunately, I had only a few hours on each of the islands, but still, I could not complain about the turquoise landscapes with palm trees and white sand.
Bohey Dulang is an island, but I will rather remember that little piece of land as a strip of sand appearing from blue water, with a few palm trees. Unfortunately, some tourists go there by big boats, and for some reason they need loud music. I prefer peace.
Then we moored somewhere in the sea where I was snorkeling. I was lucky again because I was able to see a sea turtle. There was also a cultural attraction of the day nearby – a small village on wooden posts. It was a very special sight, because I saw wooden houses covered with palm leaves, and children who were floating near me on wooden canoes. The expressions on their faces, the way they rowed and tried to sell grilled fish, were in themselves a nice cultural shock, which I always look for in my travels. Definitely, it was the clash of two completely different worlds, and I hoped that those people were happy, because I was when I saw how they lived.
Mantabuan island is yet another beautiful corner of the Semporna archipelago, with a picturesque beach and palm trees. Tourists usually have meals on this island. I took a walk, I saw red starfish and I was swimming of course.
At the end I went to the Sibuan island, where I was walking and swimming, and what took me about 3 hours. The beach, turquoise sea, palm trees, starfish and warm tropical rain. That’s what my business was about in Sibuan.
Timba Timba + Mataking + Pom Pom
All these places were similar to the ones I saw on the previous day. It is true that there were some other landscapes, and as usual, the sea, sun, palm trees and sand did not disappoint me too. I also decided to take an hour just for snorkeling among the coral reefs. When I went lower, I was able to see a huge sea turtle. I realize that everything looks larger under water, but that one was bigger than me. Besides, I walked around the white sand bar, that was sticking out of the water, and I spent a very pleasant time on the boat.
I paid 200RM for the whole day, including snorkeling, a dive, a meal and a boat. Without diving it would be 150RM.
That day I was on a boat with two young English women. In the beginning it was quite nice, but then the girls did what they could to treat me in a rough way. They were moody. However, we took pictures of each other, one of them threw me a mask and a camera when I was in the water, and the other one was so nice that the day before she had put sun lotion on my back, because I had been burned in the Borneo sun. For the first time in my life I thought that I met English women who I could really like, and I felt that I wanted to be good to them. It seemed to me that everything would go well, but unfortunately that beautiful day ended badly, when one of them told me that she was a “black whore”, and I said what I thought about it. Then it got even worse, because she asked me “what was wrong with that,” but she also didn’t let me explain it to her. Her friend was not a “black whore”, and I saw that she felt inconveniently, because it looked that she did not agree with her. Even so, she criticized me, because she didn’t want to lose her friend.
After the last hour of our cruise, spent in absolute silence, the English women were waiting for me at the port, so perhaps I could talk to them again, but I just walked by in silence, because one of them I could not respect anymore, and talking to the other woman did not make sense. I’m sure they remember me because they read my articles. Maybe they learned something ??? Maybe someday they would get in touch with me? It is a shame, because under proper discipline they could become good women.
I was sorry that I had to end it this way, because I wanted everything to go well; but in spite of that I didn’t regret my decision. If white men accept the whoredom of white women as the common normality, then it would be the end of our race!
My last evening in Semporna town
After wonderful adventures on the beautiful islands and the sea, I spent a relaxing day in Semporna toqn. I bought a fish at the market, and then they prepared it for me in a seaside bar. Then, with a bag full of rambutans, I went to sleep to the hotel.
Transport from Semporna to Tawau
For 1h ride by a minibus I paid 50RM. Along the way I saw a lot of oil palm trees, and trucks full of oil fruit. In such moments I always think about the poor orangutans.
Tawau is a town, which travellers might not remember till the end of their lives. It is true that the streets are clean, and the locals smile and serve good snacks, but the town itself is small and not interesting. Tawau consists of a concrete blocks, composed of hotels and shops, where life begins after dark, and when locals attend fruit bazaars and make temporary restaurants under the open sky. Despite that, I enjoyed the experience of Tawau. Some say that it is not worth staying there for a night, but I don’t agree with that.
Tawau found itself on the Malaysian Borneo travel map, because the nearby airport. In addition, Tawau lies close to the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo – Kalimatan. I was in Tawau to get to the airport and fly to the Philippines, but other travellers go there to visit the consulate of Indonesia and buy an Indonesian visa.
I on the other hand decided to see more, and that’s why I went on trips from Tawau, which I’m going to talk about below.
Trips from Tawau
Contrary to the popular opinion, I did not want to remember Tawau as a base for the airport. I wanted to see something beautiful, which is why I decided it was worth visiting two interesting places.
The Sanakin hot springs is an attractive place among tropical nature. Some pools are warm and other ones are hot, so one can choose. I spent a few hours in the pool, inhaling the warm steam and clean air of Borneo. Warm springs, palm trees, exotic nature. That was all I needed to be happy.
I went to Sanakin by grab (taxi) for 26RM. I paid 10RM for the entry, and it was worth it.
Tawau Hills Park is a protected area, with tropical peculiarities of Borneo’s nature. I spent over 3 hours in this park, walking along the trail through the tropical jungle, bathing in a warm spring, and then also under a waterfall. Noteworthy here is “the highest tree in the world”, and climbing the Bombalai Hill (530m), what takes about 30 minutes. I was there, of course.
My time in Tawau jungle was not easy, because on that day it was hot and mosquitoes were biting me all the time. Then there was a warm tropical rain that wet me completely, and forced me to walk through mud. In order to relax from mosquitoes, dirt and sweat, I took a shower under a waterfall, and during that time I hung wet things on a tree. A spider came into my shorts and an ant into my shirt. Because of that I had to wet my clothes again, put them back on, and wait for the sun to dry them. That’s what happened, but it was not an easy day.
From Tawau to Tawau jungle I paid 36RM for transport by grab, and 15RM for entry. However, my return to Tawau was heavy and risky, because I was in a hurry to the airport, and I was lucky enough to take a hitchhike, otherwise I would miss a flight. A group of Malaysian boys took me aboard, and we drove quickly through palm oil plantations on both sides of the road, I finally got to Tawau town, and I thanked them warmly.
It was indeed a very adventurous day, which was not over yet.
Transport from Tawau town to Tawau airport
As soon as I ran to the hotel, I took my big luggage and went to catch a taxi. I paid 50RM, because we were driving very quickly the whole 28km. A bus from Tawau to the airport would cost 10RM, but I did’t have time. When I got to the airport I was already late and the gates were closed, so I went to the Air Asia office and they let me in. Actually, it was not supposed to fly anymore, but thankfully, dirty, sweaty and permeated with the smell of the jungle, I flew to Kuala Lumpur, then to Singapore, and then from there to Cebu City in the Philippines. My flight therefore lasted two days, and during the transfers I had a lot of adventures … … although this is a completely different story.
The summary of my journey around Sabah
Organizing a trip around Sabah was the only undertaking, that I missed in order to complete my Malaysian adventure. Sabah is a state of tropical vegetation, unique animals, jungles, waterfalls, paradise islands, caves, and interesting culture and traditions of the people living there. I think that everyone should visit Sabah to make his life better and to have more interesting memories. Orangutans, proboscis monkeys jumping on the trees, a milk tea-coloured river, and the specific climate of the island of Borneo. One adventure is a continuation of the next, and the taste of the adventure is enriched with tropical fruits and exotic fish on plates, caught from the Sulu Sea and the South China Sea.